Sailing - Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2016

For four weeks starting 15 November 2016, Hamilton Island is celebrating one million guest check-ins and recapping some of the highlights and memories created by and for visitors over the past decade.

From November 15 to December 12, guests can relive their Hamilton Island experience by sharing their favourite Hamilton Island palm tree, koala cuddle, wedding, superyacht, sandy feet, cocktail, meat pie or other holiday memories and help celebrate the one million check-ins milestone.

Images can be posted to the Hamilton Island website or on Instagram and the winning entry will enjoy the choice of one of three Hamilton Island holidays, each worth $10,000.

As one million guests have landed and departed, the island has undergone a major transformation in terms of significant building projects and infrastructure. Hamilton Island Yacht Club and Villas, Hamilton Island Golf Course and the multi-award winning luxury resort, qualia, are just some of the notable additions.

Dramatic improvements in recycling waste, desalination, roads and other service infrastructure are ongoing at an annual investment of $25 million. Over 10 years, Hamilton Island’s gardeners have been extremely busy planting 5,099 trees, 529,841 shrubs, 201,522 ground covers and 13,272 palms and cycads, adding a total of 749,734 stunning stabilising greenery to the natural flora.

October is always the busiest travel month of the year for the island’s reservations team and last month was Hamilton Island’s best on record at 94.7% occupancy. Ten years ago the October occupancy rate was 68.7%.

Between 2011 and 2016, guests from 103 different countries, including beautiful island locations such as Mauritius, Fiji and the Philippines, have booked to stay at one of the island’s properties; qualia, the deluxe Beach Club or the refurbished Reef View Hotel. Guests from Peru, the Dominican Republic, Botswana and Lithuania represent some of the less obvious countries of origin.

The Island Concierge team says the most common questions haven’t changed over time and usually relate to weather or transfers. Other questions include “Can we stay longer?” “Can we live here?” Helicoptering fresh milk out to a superyacht exploring the magical Whitsunday Islands is concierge’s most flamboyant request of recent times.

When it comes to experiences, guests have most enjoyed the golf buggies, the Great Barrier Reef, a koala cuddle and more recently qualia, a firm favourite for luxury seekers. Rest and relaxation has continued to be the number one reason for travelling to Hamilton Island, with 112,500 massages being given over the last 10 years.

The Chinese market has experienced the most significant leisure growth over the past decade and overall the number of people visiting Hamilton Island from overseas has grown from 14% in 2006 to 27% in 2016.

Major celebrities who have holidayed at Hamilton Island over the past decade include Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Miranda Kerr, Naomi Watts, PINK and Chris Hemsworth.

During the Oatley family’s ownership of Hamilton Island, one of the southern hemisphere’s premier sailing regattas, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, has made a quantum leap to becoming one of Australia’s most glamorous lifestyle events. In 2006, Race Week drew 156 entries as compared with a record fleet in 2016 of 252 boats. Over 10 years, sailors, VIPs and guests have enjoyed hundreds of social events and have consumed 97,000 bottles of beer, 20,000 bottles of champagne, 20,000 punnets of strawberries and 40,000 meat pies – to name just a few of the Race Week culinary favourites.

Hamilton Island is a significant employer of full time, part-time and casual staff, recruiting 11,285 people since July 2006. Importantly, staff turnover has decreased from 133% in the same month in 2006 to 75% in July this year. A concerted effort to recruit locally has increased staff commuting from Airlie Beach and surrounding suburbs by 70% over the past 18 months.

Well over 100,000 people have attended more than 300 weddings per year over the past 10 years. Most are private affairs, except when the bride or groom is major a sports star, entertainer or business type such as Jonathan Thurston and Ginia Rinehart.

The way guests book a holiday on Hamilton Island is a sign of the times. In 2006, 4.3% of guests booked a holiday online and this year it’s 28%. Direct enquiries with Hamilton Island’s reservations team peaked at 45,900 a decade ago and in 2016 the figure is 71,865, a 56% increase.

When Hamilton Island’s website went live in August 2008 it drew an average of 90,867 visits per month and currently it’s attracting 300,000 per month. Since the site was first launched, it has recorded 17,549,744 total visits.

Since launching in February 2010, Hamilton Island’s Facebook page has grown to 103,478 followers and since August 2012, 102,000 Instagram followers have joined the page. The island is in the top 45% of brands for Instagram followers and in the top 25% of brands for engagement according to the Iconosquare Index.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management